Rescue and emergency workers are less hopeful as they dig through muck and mire for seven people still missing following Tuesday’s mudslide in Southern California.
About a four-and-half hour’s drive northwest of Los Angeles in Santa Barbara County, Montecito is a predominantly wealthy, gated community nestled along the cliffs of the Pacific Coast.
Famous celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGeneres and Rob Lowe reported damage and major flooding. Popular daytime host, DeGeneres posted a photo from her Twitter account showing that mud and water overtook the nearby 101 freeway.
This is not a river. This is the 101 freeway in my neighborhood right now. Montecito needs your love and support. pic.twitter.com/jRNCBrp4b5
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) January 9, 2018
When torrential rains poured onto the recently scorched lands of the area, a flash flood swelled within a short time. Although officials issued an evacuation, many residents disregarded warnings.
Washington Post and ABC News report that people ignored evacuation mandates because they just returned home from California wildfires. The blazes already burned for a month and forced them out of homes.
So far, 18 have been found dead. According to the county’s coroner, victims died from “multiple traumatic injuries due to flash flood with mudslides due to recent wildfire.” They range from toddlers to elderly.
As communities begin to assess damages, officials have postponed the return home for those living in mandatory evacuation zones. Now, workers must clear streets by removing inches to feet of mud and clear debris.
The mudslide occurred a month after the start of wildfires that charred the mountainous region. The burned hillsides lost stability upon the onslaught of rain, resulting in a cascade of mud and rocks.
Yesterday, California officials announced that the fire is now fully contained. From fires, a total of 17 deaths have been counted.